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San Francisco & Job Search

Hosting Family & Visiting San Francisco

I finally figured out why families are so great. It’s so that when you’re grown and living in a cool place like the Bay Area, your family can come crash in your living room, and you have a handy supply of tourist buddies to drag to all your favorite locations after your husband has grown tired of them. So here’s the run-down, all quick like, because we want to get on to important things, like pictures.

Wednesday (Apr 2): picking up people from airports. My parents got in at 2:15, so we only had time to pick them up, show them the living room, let them endear themselves to their grandkids via licorice, and then go out to dinner. We tried a Mexican place on California Ave., at which I predictably ordered fajitas. Rebekah had to be taken out, because she was wired from all the excitement. At 10:00 pm, I drove to Oakland to pick up Bryce. I got really familiar with the airports on this trip. :)

Grandma love.

Grandma love.

Thursday: saw Stanford campus. Mom babysat the twins so I could have lunch with Bryce and Dad. We took Dad to the Stanford Theater which, as predicted, he loved. Bryce tolerated Barbara Stanwyck’s stilted acting from the 1930′s on a black-and-white screen, and drowned his boredom in a bunch of concessions.

Still getting used to Bryce shoving a camera in their face.

Still getting used to Bryce shoving a camera in their face.

Apparently spring brings TONS of these caterpillars. They were *everywhere.* My dad liked petting them because they were fuzzy.

Apparently spring brings TONS of these caterpillars. They were *everywhere.* My dad liked petting them because they were fuzzy.

University Ave.

University Ave.

Memorial Church

Memorial Church

A couple shots of the interior...

A couple shots of the interior…

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I stayed outside with the kids.

I stayed outside with the kids.

Nothing is so fun as rocks.

Nothing is so fun as rocks.

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Friday: I over-ambitiously attempted to bring twin two-year-olds with us into the city. After walking for twenty minutes in the rain to the train station, my mom took pity on them and took them home for a hot bath. (The abandon with which this woman volunteers for babysitting almost makes you think she enjoys it! :) ) The rest of us saw Alcatraz, had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe on Pier 39, and walked along Fisherman’s Wharf down to Ghiradelli Square, where we bought overpriced ice cream sundaes and way too much chocolate. Then it was another couple hours of buses and train rides back home, where we slept quite soundly.

Our train station

Our train station

San Francisco from the ferry

San Francisco from the ferry

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

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This guy was a character. And really good at those bongos.

This guy was a character. And really good at those bongos.

Saturday: General Conference, but we skipped the priesthood session in the name of late afternoon naps and a trip for me and Dad back to the Stanford Theater. Somewhere in there we also let the kids play in the backyard, which quickly turned into a photo shoot.

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Sunday: Dropped Mom off at the airport in the morning, and drove back in time for more General Conference. We decided it was a good thing that the church forced us into taking a couple rest days from all our sight-seeing. They were desperately needed.

Monday: I offered to drive Bryce and Dad into the city, which would have worked great except that I don’t know my way around SF and I got off at the wrong exit, so I actually left them stranded 10 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, and they had to use their smart phones to figure out bus routes the rest of the way. They opted to take the train home. :)

On the Golden Gate Bridge

On the Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Chinatown

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While Bryce and Dad played in the city, we hung out and made our own fun. It required significantly less clothing.

While Bryce and Dad played in the city, we hung out at home and made our own fun. It required significantly less clothing.

Tuesday: We rented a car for the whole day and headed north. We hit San Francisco around 10:00 am and checked out the beach on the west end. We had lunch at Cliff House, where Bryce won the order roulette with their grilled salmon. Then we continued north until we reached the redwood park at Muir Woods, which was gorgeous and tranquil and a nice change of pace from the frenzy of the city. I stayed up extra late and picked up Mike from the airport around midnight.

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Wednesday: After Mike and I got home around 1:00 am, I slept for a few hours and got up at 4:00 to drop Bryce off at the airport. A few hours later, I got in the car one final time and dropped Dad off.

This week went so fast and was so fun! I love these people, and would have them back any time!

Mike’s Job Search

Mike spent a full week in Boston, interviewing with companies and attending a couple of sessions at the national ASCE conference. The months before his visit, he e-mailed every structural engineering company he could find in Boston, and said something along the lines of “I’ll be in town, and would love to interview with you.” And it worked. Companies that hadn’t listed any available positions brought him in for interviews! This is the same technique he used to get his $15/hr internship in Orem. The man is a genius at job hunting, and he had a week busy enough to prove it.

The most exciting report came on Friday, while we were at Ghiradelli Square. Prior to his trip, he’d been trying to make contact with a company called RSA, who had an office in New York. They invited him for an interview, but weren’t willing to pay to fly him out. Mike offered to make the three-hour drive from Boston to New York while he was out there, but they never got back to him, so he made other plans. A few days into his Boston visit, he got a call from their office essentially saying, “You know, our president is attending the conference you’re at, so how about you sit down with him for 30 minutes or so?” He did, and the interview went so unbelievably well. The president of the company offered him a job in the interview (something he’s only done twice), and made strong hints about Mike being the kind of talent they hope to have in key positions 15 years from now. It was generally very exciting. The official job offer we received a few days later was even more exciting. I’m still drooling over their benefits package.

The other job offers Mike’s received are pretty attractive, too. We’ve pretty much narrowed the decision down to two really prestigious companies, both of which Mike would love to work at, both of which offer comparable pay, and both of which are in Boston. We hope to have a final decision made by tomorrow.

The other exciting news from Mike’s uber-productive Boston adventure: he leased us an apartment. He’d been working through a rental agency that wanted a $1900 “finder’s fee,” but once he hit that fine print, he dropped them and went out on his own. It’s a long story, but the upshot is this: my tenacious husband talked to the gardener on the property of an apartment building, got hooked up directly with one of the landlords (thereby avoiding the agency fee) who just happened to have an apartment available in June, laid down a deposit and signed the paperwork. Location? Right across the street from Harvard’s divinity school.

Needless to say, it was a productive week. And we are now 100% sure we’re going to Boston in two months! Wahoo!

Post-Vacation Recovery

I’ve been in “recovery mode” for the past four days. This consists of letting my house go entirely to seed, ignoring my children, feeding them complete junk (doritos, animal crackers, dry cereal, and candy) and watching old episodes of House. All. Weekend. Long.

This no-stress plan was going swimmingly until Friday. I discovered puddles of bleach in my cabinets. Somehow our bleach had been leaking all over some food storage, so I had to mop it up and throw out a bunch of food. Unbeknownst to me, the twins had turned the lock on the front door handle, so when I came back from the dumpster, I was locked out of the house. I got some neighbors to call the housing office, and they promised to send someone down with the master key in 15 minutes (ha!). I stood outside the front door and held Rebekah’s hand through the mail slot while she cried. It was really funny for the first 15 minutes, and really not-funny for the last 30. Eventually I made it back inside and we drowned our trauma in corn dogs.

Kids’ Recent Stuff

Rebekah still loves to take off her clothes, but she’s figured out that I don’t approve, so she always hides behind the kitchen curtains to do it.

I’ve been telling Jared “no” a lot lately, and it’s turned into an adorable game:

This also happened:

…which is how my kitchen sink ended up looking like this:

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Next up: Holy Week! Easter! Final job decision! Tune in next time.

P.S. – Did you know that you can make cookies with Cadbury Mini-Eggs? Be still, my heart.

 

 

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Just Checking In

Yes, there have been lots of goings-on over the past couple of weeks, all of which need to be blogged about. But I’m holding off, because I’ve been promised lots of pictures from our primary camera-men (Bryce and my dad).

Really, this post is just to announce that it is officially Cadbury Mini-Egg season. To celebrate, I ordered two bags from Google Express, but because it was my first order, I got free delivery and a $10 credit. Meaning I just got two bags of Cadbury Mini-Eggs completely free, with same-day delivery.

Happy soon-to-be-Easter, folks. God lives.

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Spring “Break” & MSH

Here’s a breakdown of our busy week.

Tuesday was Mike’s Seattle interview. He flew out early and came back late, and says that it all went very well. He suspects that out of all the job offers he’s likely to get, this one will be the most appealing in terms of the work he’d get to do.

Wednesday was our only day to spend together out of the entire Spring Break, so we planned on making the most of it. It turned out to be super rainy all morning, but we livened that up with brunch at a French restaurant and then came home to binge on West Wing while the kids napped. In the afternoon we finally hit up the Children’s Museum & Zoo, and it was so fun! I want to take the kids back. They had a blast! And there were lots of really neat animals to look at. Their favorite part was having free reign to roam anywhere they pleased. My favorite part is that the museum is free (technically; they ask for a donation, but it is optional) and you can stay all day, if you like. Rebekah wasn’t really into the animals at first, but then she found a giant goose that honked at her, and that caught her interest. She kept reaching over the gate and I was afraid the goose would bite her. Maybe next time. After the museum/zoo, we went grocery shopping for my road trip snacks, and then got dinner at Chipotle. It was a really fun day. Not bad for Spring Break.

Thursday I hopped in the car and drove down to Claremont for my conference (Mormon Scholars in the Humanities). Traffic was awful around L.A., of course, and added an extra hour to the drive, but once I arrived and had dinner with the group, I felt better about life. Dinner involved meeting some new folks and chatting with Joe about Iragaray. I roomed with Jenny because: duh. And after dinner someone suggested that we all go out for ice cream. Jenny, Adam, and I all drove, but the rest of the group must have walked, because we arrived before them, got our ice cream, and then drove back to the hotel all before seeing anyone else. We sat around for about 10 minutes and then just decided to go to bed. It was a flop as far as the group dynamic was concerned, but a huge win in terms of sleep!

I presented my paper on Friday, and was well-received. That was in large part due to Joe, who spent the rest of the weekend telling people it was the best paper at the conference (he called it “magisterial,” of all things). It’s nice that my session was small, so very few people are in a position to evaluate the actual paper in comparison with Joe’s glowing praise.

Friday night was the traditional soda social, wherein we all sat around drinking cream soda/ginger beer/diet coke until midnight. We were interrupted around 9:00 pm by the first earthquake of my life, which was so fun. It was a 5.1, and the shaking was pretty big. It lasted for about 3 seconds, after which we all stared at each other for a moment longer. Someone asked “should we get under the tables?” but it was clearly over at that point, so we just continued with our party. After we got back to the hotel, I showered, and Jenny kindly stayed up a little longer to read and edit my paper. The angel.

Saturday: more conferencing, another earthquake (during the keynote address! Our speaker, Richard Kearney, didn’t even miss a beat), a nap, a trip to Trader Joe’s, and then fantastic Thai food for dinner. I left dinner right after I finished eating, hit the road, and arrived home around 2:00 am. I made a few preparations for the next morning, and then went to bed (that didn’t go well. Jared was coughing all night long, so I am seriously sleep deprived).

Sunday morning I hardly even spoke to Mike until 7:30. We were running around the house getting ready to take him to the airport. So we had a quick 30 minute conversation about everything, and then he was on a plane headed to Houston, and I took the kids to church (just let them run around the foyer and the cultural hall), taught my Sunday School lesson, blinked blearily through Relief Society, and came home for a nap.

It was a really great weekend. Conferences are the highlight of my life. I love being with my people, and the Italian mafia stand-up routines certainly didn’t hurt.

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Not Chocolate

I have no pictures for you this week. I understand if you want to just quit reading now.

Well, as facebook announced earlier this week, we had our second poop fiasco with Rebekah. And poop does look surprisingly like chocolate. And when you give your children chocolate chip waffles for breakfast, your maternal instincts don’t kick in as quickly at the sight of brown goop smeared all over their clothes. Until it reaches critical mass, that is. Rebekah got into some serious smearing while I was distracted (all over her clothes, on some stuffed animals, etc.), and so I did what The Internet Moms agreed was the best solution: stripped her down and gave her a cold shower. She hated it, of course, and spent the entire time screaming “Down! Down! Down!” But then we moved on with our day and she was fine.

And then on Tuesday she did it again. And another cold shower. And since then no more problems, but I’ve also been a bit more on top of her bowel movements. We’ll see whether this trend continues. I’m really not sure how we’ll fare–Rebekah is super into textures lately (as evidenced by mashing all of her food all over her tray instead of eating it).

You know how certain kids manifest certain behaviors? One kid is a poop-smearer, but doesn’t whine too much, and then two years later you get a different blend of positives and negatives in the next kid? Having twins shoots you in the leg. You get all the negatives all at once. (Also all the positives, but this is a whiny blog, so cut me some slack.)

And thus Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday somehow ended up being days full of Tantrums from Hell. We’ve suddenly upped our tantrum ability in the past few weeks, and I am about ready to kill somebody.

BUT! We are approaching a turnaround! Because I think we’ve finally reached the age at which I can start enforcing “be a happy boy/girl” and can put them in their cribs for the not-getting-their-way tantrums. Phew! I might be a whole new person next week.

Mike survived finals, and the never-ending quarter finally reached its end. We went out on Thursday night to a concert at the Stanford concert hall. We saw Chanticleer and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and it was fantastic. These are both really popular groups in the Bay Area, and the fact that we managed to snag tickets at all is kind of miraculous and happened entirely on a whim back in February. We’re super grateful that living in this apartment complex makes for such convenient babysitting, too. Our neighbor just had to entertain the kids for 30 minutes, lay them in bed, and take our baby monitor back to her place. Cush.

The quarter may be over, but life feels just as busy as before. Mike goes to Seattle tomorrow, Houston on Sunday, and Boston from there for the following ten days. I have MSH this weekend (yay!), and then my family comes to visit the following week (yay!). To top off all the crazy, Mike and I helped manage the nursery yesterday. It was really surprisingly mellow. We just graduated a class of older kids to Sunbeams, so nursery is largely full of young, chill toddlers who are happy to just eat their pretzels and raisins and not try to destroy toys. All the same, I came away 100% convinced that the nursery always needs a man in it–they’re scarier, better at wrestling the trouble-makers, and still somehow way more fun than all the women.

To cope with all the crazy, we’ve been playing an awful lot of 2048. We’ve both beaten it several times and have now taken to racing each other, which is also highly recommended.

And! Easter is on the horizon! Are you excited?! Yesterday at church one of the speakers’ talks was based on the question “do you do anything in your home to help prepare you and your family for Easter?” Her answer was, basically, “No, but holiday food is awesome.” But the topic question made me think of all the things I actually do pre-Easter–I read an entire series of C.S. Lewis fiction, read a liturgical day-by-day of NT passages chronicling Jesus’ last week (in Greek, of course), listen to Rutter’s “Requiem” and various other pieces of Easter-themed classical music, and eat Cadbury mini-eggs. So I think we’ve got a nice routine.

We did enter negotiations yesterday, however, about what to have for Easter dinner. I’ve been planning on a big ham, potatoes, etc.–the traditional stuff. But then Mike had this brilliant idea: have fish and honeycomb! (Is the man brilliant, or what?) But we’ve since realized that our preferred fish is salmon, and honeycomb is really expensive, and together they might break the bank. So if you come over to our house on Easter, beware; we might be having this instead:

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End of Quarter

The big news around here is that Mike’s quarter is almost at an end. He’s tired, and stressed, and spring break doesn’t promise to be relaxing for him, but at the very least finals will be over by the end of the week, and next quarter will ostensibly be a bit easier (13 credits instead of 16, plus no more tutoring–wahoo!). He gave his presentation for a final project on Friday and came home early to rest his brain. We ended up heading back up to campus so the kids could see the “therapy dogs” the student council had placed around campus to help students eliminate stress. The dogs were tired and surrounded by big crowds, but Rebekah got to pet a golden retriever, and then we fed them pizza at a Happy Hour put on by the civil engineering department. And then we went to Safeway to get some groceries, and after putting the kids to bed I made this pie for Pi Day (so good!), and we watched West Wing. A perfect Friday.

All of Mike’s January job applications are finally getting him interviews, so he’ll be traveling all over the country for the next couple of weeks. He’ll head to Seattle, then I’ll go to L.A. for my conference, then he’ll go to Houston, and then he’ll go to Boston for a week. Pray that we survive, and that it ends up resulting in a cushy paycheck so we can afford to feed our children for the next few years.

Eating dinner with twins is not as relaxing as you might expect.

Eating dinner with twins is not as relaxing as you might expect.

That's Trader Joe's pear salad dressing, if you were wondering. It really is good enough to drink.

That’s Trader Joe’s pear salad dressing, if you were wondering. It really is good enough to drink.

And here’s a great video of the twins. We actually took a lot of video this week, but most of it is of tantrums, because filming tantrums helps me stay sane. This video comes from one of their more happy and engaging moments. Enjoy.

If you didn’t cash in on Pi Day this week, my aunt helpfully pointed out over facebook that March 2014 is technically Pi Month (3/14), so go indulge. You’re welcome.

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Job Interview + Photos

Do you ever have those days where for some inexplicable reason you get hardly any sleep the night before and you get up at 5:00 am and try to do a workout anyway but your whole soul rebels, so you try to go back to bed but you still can’t sleep and now you have a headache on top of it, so you start to cry and your husband hears you and comes downstairs and takes care of the kids for an hour so you can sleep in just a little bit longer so that–while you’re still exhausted and have a headache–at least you now feel human again? Then for some inexplicable reason you manage to edit your MSH paper in the morning, but by noon your brain is shot, so you might as well just post a blog full of pictures since that’s what people come by your blog for, anyway?

Happy Monday, readers.

Rebekah likes climbing into her highchair and just hanging out there. If she's hoping it will get her more food, it doesn't really work.

Rebekah likes climbing into her highchair and just hanging out there. If she’s hoping it will get her more food, it doesn’t really work.

They're also enamored with their bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah's.

They’re also enamored with their bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah’s.

Oh. And brooms.

Oh. And brooms.

Whatever gets them to share, right?

Whatever gets them to share, right?

Eating breakfast in the living room Thursday morning.

Eating breakfast in the living room Thursday morning.

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The "walker" has quickly become a sedentary toy.

The “walker” has quickly become a sedentary toy.

 

Jared caught me taking pictures of him, and was immediately fascinated by the camera...

Jared caught me taking pictures of him, and was immediately fascinated by the camera…

... so of course we had some close-ups.

… so of course we had some close-ups…

... and some selfies.

… and some selfies.

In other news, I suppose I ought to mention that yesterday we joint-hosted the missionaries for dinner at our house (one of my friends had signed up to feed the missionaries, but her husband wasn’t going to be home from work, so she brought the food over to our place–score!) and that was fun. I’m still teaching Gospel Doctrine, and it’s made me a bit of a mini celebrity, which I always find amusing. At least when people talk to me, now, they know what I’m actually like. :)

I also ought to mention that Mike has a whole bunch of job interviews coming up, and we are excited! There’s one in Seattle on the 25th, one in Houston (probably on the 31st), and then two in Boston when he flies out there for an engineering conference the first week in April. Throw in my trip on the 27th-29th, and we won’t be seeing much of each other this Spring Break. It will be well worth it, though, if we finally figure out where we’re headed in three months (!).

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All Twins Considered

Today’s title is my own little witticism, and I’m quite proud of it. Mary Lu texted me on Sunday asking “How have you been?” To which I responded: “Not too bad, all twins considered.” I’m here all week, folks.

So here’s your weekly dose of Newsworthy Variations From Our Regular Schedule Plus Other Miscellany.

First up: lumbar support. I’ve been feeling kind of like an old woman ever since I started working out regularly, and I really thought this was just the way it was supposed to go. Back and knee pain are just the price we young, healthy people pay for trying to get into shape for the first time in our life. Two weeks ago I took a 5-day break from exercising to rest/heal my body, and my back pain was still bad. First I got angry. I thought working out was supposed to help with this kind of crap. What was the point of sweating for an hour every morning if I had to deal with joint pain as a result? Then I got smart. What if the culprit was not my workouts, but sitting in a kitchen chair hunched over my laptop all day long, only taking breaks to lift 30 lb kids onto my poorly-postured hips? So then I bought a lumbar support pillow on amazon, and now I feel much better.

I must have still been feeling a little rage-y, though, because a few days later I flew into a frenzy of clutter-induced crazy and threw half of the kids’ old toys into the recycle bin. It did not make my house look any cleaner. Seriously. Zero impact. 

And as of this month, with our brand new March Budget, I bought a couple more age-appropriate toys that they should enjoy. Also bubbles, because the nursery informs us that Jared goes spastic over the things.

The other exciting piece of news is that our crock pot got a crack in it, so that also got tossed out and replaced with a similar model from Target. I went shopping with Amanda, courtesy of her having both a car and a grocery list, and I only made two unplanned purchases at Costco while we were out, both of which were actually quite necessary (size 3 diapers and coconut oil, if you were wondering), and then some less-responsible purchases at Target where things were cheaper: $6 on long-stemmed wine glasses and sparkling cider, because it makes at-home date nights feel a bit fancier.

Speaking of at-home date nights, it’s a new thing we’re trying. We celebrated on Friday night by ordering Mediterranean via DoorDash, watching Hercules on Netflix, and playing a game of “Hercules bingo” I created by culling the internet for Disney drinking games. ‘Twas a success.

All in all, in was a pretty laid-back week. I didn’t have any writing projects, so I just read some books while the kids played outside, instead. Now that it’s March, I have three weeks to cobble together my MSH paper, so writing is back on the agenda, but it should come together fairly easily, and then I get to party with my academic peeps in L.A. for a couple days.

As for the kids, we’re starting to get more legitimate words out of them. In the sense that I’m finally starting to detect patterns in their speech. One of their words is “bib,” and they’ve been saying it for several months now, but it was only this week that I confirmed that they are, in fact, saying “bib.” The difficulty has been this: they say “bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah?” How on earth was I supposed to differentiate that from random babbling? It’s as if they hear the word “bib” and think “At last! Two identical consonants in the same word! I’ve got this.” And then they let loose with their B’s.

It’s also always phrased as a question, too. “Bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah?” = “You’re going to put my bib on now, right? Right?”

As for Mike, his news this week is that he likes green bananas. Yep. I thought I’d escaped living with a green-banana-eater when I moved out of my parents’ house, but it turns out I married into the same dilemma. C’est la vie.

And here’s another picture of Rebekah. We love having a little girl. It’s so much fun to style her hair! ;)

Here is a picture of Rebekah's bath hairstyle, courtesy of dad. (Psst! Mom! See those bath toy in the background? They LOVE them.)

(Psst! Mom! See those bath toy in the background? They LOVE them.)

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